Hostels in Roatan and Backpacking Roatan: Best Travel Tips

Come find out the best hostels in Roatan as I share the best budget-friendly places to stay! Of course, I have to share my top tips for backpacking Roatan including where to eat, how to get there, how much it costs, and more!


If you want to find an island paradise with a lot of creature comforts Roatan is the perfect place. This is the largest and most developed of the Bay Islands in Honduras, and a paradise for snorkelers, divers, beach lovers, and nature enthusiasts.

Here you will find stunning coral reefs, sandy shores, and lush forests, no doubt a gorgeous landscape making backpacking Roatan well worth it.

Though, is it true? There aren’t too many best hostels in Roatan, and what that do exist aren’t in the best locations. This is also a super popular cruise ship destination driving up prices and things can sometimes feel a bit overrun. Well, thankfully it is possible to backpack Roatan on a budget, and I will show you how.

In this backpacking Roatan travel guide, I will let you in on all the top things to do, where to sleep, eat, and more!

Even though I originally planned to only spend a few nights backpacking Roatan, I ended up staying a couple of lot longer. Nearly 2 weeks by the time I left I absolutely fell in love with this place.

Also yes, it is possible to do it on a budget, you just need to stay somewhere with cooking facilities, enjoy free activities such as the beautiful beaches, and get around by public transport.

So let’s get into everything you need to know about backpacking Roatan so you can have the best trip. This includes finding out budgets, where to stay, top spots to eat, staying safe, things to do, and more!


Backpacking Roatan: Top Travel Tips & Best Hostels In Roatan

having a pina colada and watching sunset on our last night backpacking roatan
having a pina colada and watching sunset on our last night backpacking roatan

How Many Days To Spend Backpacking Roatan

Now let’s figure out how many days to spend backpacking Roatan. Though in all honesty, this does depend on your personal preferences and what you hope to do there, personally, I recommend a minimum of three nights in Roatan to get the most out of your trip here.

This will allow you to relax in the island lifestyle, spend some time on the beach, and do a bit of snorkeling.

However, if you have some extra time or are perhaps interested in learning how to scuba dive in Roatan I would recommend spending at least a week here. There are quite a few things to do, but I do find a lot of them involve questionable animal ethics which I don’t support.

Therefore the best thing to do here is book accommodation in a great beach location and enjoy being in paradise.

Personally, I actually ended up spending about 2 weeks in Roatan and basically all further plans around exploring Central America went out the window as we continuously extended our stay here.

exploring the beautiful reef and waters around roatan by doing our padi open water
exploring the beautiful reef and waters around roatan by doing our padi open water
a surprisingly quiet day on the beach in roatan
a surprisingly quiet day on the beach in roatan

Cost Per Day To Travel Roatan

Surprisingly Honduras is quite an affordable country, even more so than neighboring Guatemala. Though obviously, Roatan is an island so goods need to be shipped here and it is a lot more touristy than the majority of the country. Therefore it is actually quite pricey to travel Roatan.

We did find some affordable accommodation in places like Roatan Backpackers and Chillies, though these were a little too far on the basic side. There was just something not so fun about waking up halfway through the night to use the bathroom and being greeted by numerous bugs.

In the end, we ended up moving to Sea Breeze Inn which was a mid-range hotel with air conditioning, proper windows, and just costing us $50.00 per night.

A major thing that increased our budget here was obviously the scuba diving course we did. This ended up costing $380.00 excluding the fun dives we did after we were qualified.

Depending on whether this is something you also plan to do will greatly affect how much you end up spending here. Though if you are even remotely thinking of it, best to just budget it in just in case.

Overall I recommend budgeting between $60.00 to $80.00 per day when backpacking Roatan depending on your travel style. This will allow you a decent place to sleep in a good location and some delicious meals.

If you are also wanting to do your open water diving course in Roatan you will want to increase this budget by around $100 per day.

hanging out in the shallows of half moon bay // going from a snorkel in the deeper waters
hanging out in the shallows of half moon bay // going from a snorkel in the deeper waters
looking back at the shoreline in half moon bay in roatan
looking back at the shoreline in half moon bay in roatan

Best Hostels In Roatan

There is excellent luxury accommodation in Roatan, though in all honesty, it doesn’t really fit into my budget, and as you are reading a budget guide, likely your budget either. Luckily there are a handful, of affordable stays that are worth your money.

We actually stayed in three different properties during our nearly 2 weeks in Roatan.

Roatan Backpackers Hostel: Honestly this place was a bit of a miss for us, simply due to the location. The beach area nearby was less than average, though they did have a kitchen onsite and a grocery store down the road. There is also a lovely pool you can relax in.

Hotel Chillies: This is an excellent budget choice right on Half Moon Bay. They have an assortment of budget-friendly and more lux rooms, in a beautiful jungle setting. Though in the jungle comes the bugs so just be prepared for that. They also have dorm rooms but these need to be booked directly on their website.

Sea Breeze Inn: Again located in Half Moon Bay, though in a busier area of it, this was our favorite stay in Roatan. Even the budget rooms have air conditioning and after a busy day of diving, this was all we wanted. The property is clean and tidy, and we had proper windows to keep those cheeky bugs out. If you can afford it, or have someone to split the price with.

shark hostel

Roatan Backpackers Hostel

The only real proper hostel on the island. Rooms start from $14.00 for a dorm and $20.00 for a private.

BOOK NOW
53866125

Hotel Chillies

Across the road from the beach in more of a quiet location. Single and double rooms start at $30.00.

BOOK NOW
328477854

Seabreeze Inn

A lovely affordable hotel in Half Moon Bay. Private rooms here start at $50.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
184233220

West End Dive Resort

A slightly dated resort in a good location. Prices start from $80.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
our basic bungalow in the jungle at chillies, this is a great budget option for a hostel in roatan
our basic bungalow in the jungle at chillies, this is a great budget option for a hostel in roatan

Getting Around Roatan

Honestly, Roatan is surprisingly large in size so you will need some transport to get around. Whether this is simply from the ferry terminal or airport to your accommodation, or perhaps you are looking at hiring a car.


How To Get To Roatan

Now if you want to get to Roatan the easiest places to do this are either Honduras, Belize, Canada, El Salvador, and America. These have the best connections for travelers to this town and will allow you to have a stress-free journey.

Taking a ferry from La Ceiba to Roatan is the most popular way to travel here from the mainland taking around 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are two ferry operators that run daily services between La Ceiba and Roatan and these are Galaxy Wave Ferry and Utila Dream Ferry.

A one-way ticket costs between $25 and $45, depending on the operator and the class of service. There are also tickets available for senior citizens, children aged 3 to 10, and those under 2 are generally free to travel.

Roatan receives direct flights from several cities in the US, Canada, and Central America, including Miami, Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Toronto, Montreal, San Salvador, and Belize City. These flights are operated by airlines such as American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, WestJet, Tropic Air, and TAG Airlines.

There are also domestic flights from other cities in Honduras to Roatan, such as La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula, and Tegucigalpa. These flights are operated by local airlines such as CM Airlines, Aerolineas Sosa, Aerolineas Mas, and Lanhsa Airlines.

social distancing in the waiting room for the ferry from la ceiba to roatan // some of the views from the ferry terminal in roatan
social distancing in the waiting room for the ferry from la ceiba to roatan // some of the views from the ferry terminal in roatan
a large carnival cruise ship in port at roatan
a large carnival cruise ship in port at roatan

Traveling Within Roatan

To get around Roatan, you can use public transportation, taxis, rental cars, or tours. Though if you are simply just planning on relaxing at the beach perhaps you won’t need to worry too much about this.

Some of the factors that may influence your choice of transportation are your budget, your travel style, your itinerary, and your location. If you stay at a resort in West Bay or West End, you may not need a rental car at all, as everything you need will be within walking distance or a short taxi ride.

However, if you stay at a vacation rental in a remote area, you may need a rental car to access shops, restaurants, and activities. Perhaps you want to explore the island at your own pace and schedule, you may prefer a rental car over public transportation or taxis.

If you want to save money and experience the local culture, you may opt for public transportation or colectivo taxis.

I highly recommend downloading the offline map of Roatan on the Maps.Me app or Google Maps for your cell phone. It’ll be super helpful in navigating your way around if you do not have data. This is one thing I always make sure I do before arriving at a new destination.


Public Transportation

Public transportation consists of buses that are actually 16-passenger vans that run regular routes between Coxen Hole, West End, Sandy Bay and French Harbour. They are cheaper than taxis and take longer than taxis, but they run frequently and are really convenient.

The buses typically say the route (e.g. Coxen Hole-Sandy Bay-West End) on the front and/or back of the van, but not always. You can hail them from the main road or from designated bus stops. They usually charge a set fare for traveling between specific points on the main road, but they may charge extra for going off the main road or at night.

They will not veer off their set path at all, so no door-to-door service here. You have to yell out “baja” (say: ba-ha) or “gracias” when you want to get out and pay the driver upon exiting the bus. You may also have to share the bus with other passengers and their belongings, so be prepared to squeeze in together.

The buses are a great way to experience the local culture and chat with local residents. They are also a good option for visiting some of the main attractions and activities on the island, such as West Bay Beach, West End Village, Sandy Bay Beach, and French Harbour.


Taxi

Taxis are white cars with registration numbers that can be private or shared (colectivo). They are readily available at the airport, the ferry dock, the cruise ports, and the main towns and beaches. You can also call them or book them online in advance.

The taxis have set fares for traveling between specific points on the main road, but they may charge extra for going off the main road or at night. It is always best to clarify the cost before getting into the taxi. You can also negotiate the price if you take a private taxi or if you hire a taxi for a full-day or half-day tour.


Car Rental

Car rental companies in Roatan include international and local ones, such as Enterprise, Alamo, National, Sixt, Thrifty, Ramirez, and Captain Vans. You can find them at the airport, the ferry dock, the cruise ports, and the main towns and beaches. You can also book them online in advance or call them for delivery.

The rental prices in Roatan vary depending on the season, the demand, the availability, and the type of vehicle. You can expect to pay between $26 and $130 per day for economy, compact, intermediate, standard, full-size, SUV, pickup truck, or jeep. These prices usually include taxes and insurance, but you may have to pay extra for fuel, mileage, or additional drivers.

Car rental requirements in Roatan are similar to those in other countries. You need to have a valid driver’s license, a credit card, and a minimum age of 21 or 25 depending on the company.

You also need to have an international driving permit if your license is not in English or Spanish. You may also need to pay a deposit or a deductible in case of damage or theft.

going out on a snorkeling trip to the blue channel in roatan
going out on a snorkeling trip to the blue channel in roatan

Things To Do While Backpacking Roatan

There are some awesome things to do while backpacking Roatan that will give you an amazing holiday. Even though this is an island you can still find an assortment of nonwater-side activities. It also caters to cruise ships so you will find a large assortment of tours available.

Before I get into this list I do need to point out that Roatan has A LOT, like HEAPS of animal tourism activities. Personally, I do not support this in the slightest so won’t be mentioning this here.

Though if you partake in animal tourism of any sort it is important you book ethical experiences and do your research. I didn’t support any of the activities involving animals on Roatan, whether that was because dolphins were captive, sloths were used as photo props, etc.


SCUBA Diving

Scuba diving in Roatan is a world-class experience that attracts divers from all over the globe. That is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef in the world.

It has over 100 dive sites that offer a variety of reef, wall, wreck, cave, and cavern dives. It also has a rich marine life, with a chance to see sharks, rays, turtles, dolphins, whales, and colorful fish.

Roatan has dive sites for all levels of experience, from beginner to advanced. Some of the most popular dive sites are Mary’s Place, El Aguila Wreck, West End Wall, Spooky Channel, and Dolphin Den.

Roatan has many dive shops and resorts that offer scuba diving services and courses. Personally, I can recommend Sun Divers as I had an incredible experience diving in Roatan with them.

Roatan has a tropical climate with warm water and good visibility year-round. The average water temperature is 82°F (28°C) and the average visibility is 80 feet (24 meters).

The best time to dive in Roatan is from March to September when the weather is dry and calm. The rainy season is from October to February when the weather is wet and windy, but the diving is still good.

enjoying some scuba diving in roatan, if you have the time and money i highly recommend trying this
enjoying some scuba diving in roatan, if you have the time and money i highly recommend trying this

Parasail In Roatan

Parasailing in Roatan is a thrilling and scenic way to enjoy the island’s beauty from above. It is offered by several companies, such as Roatan Parasail, Roatan Ocean Adventures, Roatan Five Stars, and West Bay Tours.

Parasailing costs between $70 and $80 per person for a 10 to 15-minute flight. Some companies may offer discounts for groups or packages with other activities. The price usually includes equipment, instruction, safety briefing, and transportation to and from the boat.

It will take you up to 800 feet above the water, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the island, the bay, the reef, and the mountains. You can also see dolphins, turtles, rays, and other marine life from the air. You can fly solo or tandem or with a friend. You can also choose to stay dry or get dipped in the water for some extra fun.

This is a safe and fun activity for anyone who is not afraid of heights and who meets the weight and health requirements. You don’t need any previous experience or skills to parasail, as you will be guided by a professional and certified crew.

You will wear a harness and a life jacket, and you will be attached to a parachute and a tow rope that connects you to the boat.


Ride an ATV

An ATV tour in Roatan is a fun and exciting way to explore the island’s natural beauty and culture. They are offered by several companies, such as ATV Roatan Jungle Adventure Tours, Roatan Five Stars, Roatan Anderson Tours, Let’s See Roatan, and Roatan Tour Guide Association.

These tours vary in duration, difficulty, price, and itinerary. You can choose from half-day, or full-day and can expect to pay between $75 and $130 per person depending on the company and the tour. Some tours may include entrance fees, lunch, drinks, a guide, equipment, and transportation.

ATV tours in Roatan take you to different places and attractions on the island, such as beaches, jungles, mountains, villages, mangroves, wildlife parks, and historical sites. You can enjoy the scenery, the wildlife, the culture, and the adventure of riding an ATV on dirt roads, trails, and mud pits.


Swim at Half Moon Bay

Swimming at Half Moon Bay in Roatan is a relaxing and enjoyable way to experience the island’s natural beauty and culture. This is the main beach on the West End of the island, one of the most popular and lively tourist areas.

It is named after its crescent shape, and it has white sand, clear water, and a coral reef just offshore. It is also where you can find many restaurants, bars, shops, and activities.

Swimming at Half Moon Bay is suitable for all ages and abilities, as the water is calm, shallow, and warm. You can swim along the shore, or venture out to the reef, where you can snorkel and see a variety of marine life, such as fish, turtles, rays, and seahorses.

gorgeous golden sand and palm trees at half moon bay in roatan
gorgeous golden sand and palm trees at half moon bay in roatan
enjoying the crystal clear and warm waters while backpacking roatan
enjoying the crystal clear and warm waters while backpacking roatan

Roatan Brewing Co

Roatan Brewing Co. is located in the Palmetto Bay area of Roatan, surrounded by tropical vegetation and nature trails.

It brews a variety of easy-drinking ales and lagers, many with a tropical twist, such as the Mango Wheat, the Coconut Porter, and the Hibiscus Saison. They also offer seasonal and experimental beers, as well as non-alcoholic drinks.

Roatan Brewing Co. is open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. It has a cozy and rustic taproom, where you can sample the beers on tap or buy them by the bottle or growler. There is also a spacious outdoor area, where you can enjoy the views, the breeze, and the live music.

This is a family-owned and operated business that supports the local community and the environment. It uses local ingredients whenever possible, such as fruits, honey, and coffee. It also recycles its bottles and cans, composts its organic waste, and donates its spent grains to local farmers.

hanging out at roatan brewing company and tasting their assorted ales
hanging out at roatan brewing company and tasting their assorted ales

Roatan Rum Company

This is a great place to come for souvenirs, though no promises they will make it off the island because we consumed ours. This is a specialty store that offers complimentary rum and rum cake treats while overlooking the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean from high atop “Rum Point” at The Rum Runners Bar and Patio.

You can visit their gift shop and sample their products, such as the Roatan Infusions, which are handcrafted Caribbean rum infusions with natural fruits and spices. I also recommend trying their original Roatan rum cake, which is moist, delicious, and soaked in rum.


Where To Eat In Roatan

Food in Roatan reflects the island’s history, culture, and geography. It incorporates elements from the indigenous, African, Spanish, British, Garifuna, and Caribbean traditions, as well as from the modern tourism and expat communities. It also showcases the island’s abundant seafood, fruits, and vegetables, as well as imported products.


Western Food To Eat While Backpacking Roatan

Roatan has a wide range of international food options to suit different tastes and budgets. Here are some more details about the best international food in Roatan, including Sandy Buns:

Sandy Buns Bakery & Cafe: a cozy and casual bakery and cafe in West End that serves American and Tex-Mex dishes, such as burgers, pizzas, tacos, and salads. It also has freshly baked bread, world-famous cinnamon buns, brownies, and other treats. It is open from Monday to Saturday, from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM, and on Saturday nights for BBQ night.

Roatan Oasis: a fine dining restaurant in Sandy Bay that serves seafood and international dishes, such as tuna tacos, lamb chops, seared scallops, and duck confit. It also has a wine cellar and a garden patio. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

Pazzo: an elegant restaurant in West End that serves Italian and Mediterranean dishes, such as homemade pasta, steak, seafood risotto, and tiramisu. It also has a wine list and a romantic ambiance. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

Luna Muna @ Ibagari: a sophisticated restaurant in West Bay that serves seafood and fusion dishes, such as tuna tataki avocado, lobster tacos, crab tortellini, and chocolate cake. It also has an art gallery and a stunning view of the sunset. It is open daily from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

Ginger’s Caribbean Grill: a beachfront restaurant in West End that serves Caribbean and international dishes, such as fish tacos, coconut shrimp, jerk chicken, and ribs. It also has a full bar and live music on weekends. It is open daily from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

delicious cinnamon roll and burger at sandy buns in roatan
delicious cinnamon roll and burger at sandy buns in roatan

Local Spots To Try While Backpacking Roatan

Local food in Roatan is a delicious and diverse mix of influences from the indigenous, African, Spanish, British, Garifuna, and Caribbean cuisines. Some of the typical dishes in Roatan are:

Baleadas: thick flour tortillas filled with refried beans, cheese, sour cream, and sometimes eggs, meat, or avocado.

Machuca: mashed green plantains mixed with coconut milk and served with fried fish and a spicy onion sauce.

Conch soup: a hearty soup made with conch meat, coconut milk, yuca, plantains, carrots, and spices.

Rondon: a stew of fish, conch, lobster, or crab cooked with coconut milk, yuca, plantains, dumplings, and spices.

Tapado: a soup of fish, shrimp, crab, lobster, plantains, coconut milk, and spices served with rice.

Coconut shrimp: shrimp coated with shredded coconut and fried until golden and crispy.

Fried fish: whole fish seasoned with salt and pepper and fried until crispy. Served with rice, beans, salad, and fried plantains.

roatan has plenty of incredible restaurants and cafes with tasty treats such as cheesecake
roatan has plenty of incredible restaurants and cafes with tasty treats such as cheesecake

Safety While Backpacking Roatan

Roatan is a popular tourist destination that attracts visitors from all over the world. However, many people may wonder if Roatan is safe to travel to, especially considering its connection to mainland Honduras, which has a reputation for crime and violence. Though Roatan is generally safer than mainland Honduras.

This is due to its different geography, culture, and economy. It also has a lower population density, less poverty and less gang activity. It also has a strong police presence and security measures to protect tourists and locals alike.

Roatan is not immune to crime, however, and travelers should exercise caution and common sense when visiting the island. The most common crimes are petty theft, such as pickpocketing, purse snatching, or stealing valuables left unattended. Violent crimes, such as homicide, kidnapping, or assault, are rare but not unheard of.

Travelers can reduce their risk of becoming victims of crime by following some basic safety tips, such as:

  • Avoid traveling alone or at night, especially in unfamiliar or isolated areas.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive jewelry or watches, flashing large amounts of cash or using expensive gadgets.
  • Do not carry more money or valuables than you need, and keep them in a secure place or on your person at all times.
  • Do not accept drinks or food from strangers or leave them unattended, as they may be spiked with drugs.
  • Do not get involved in drugs or illegal activities, as they may lead to trouble with the law or criminals.
  • Do not resist or argue with robbers or attackers, as they may become violent. Give them what they want and report the incident to the police as soon as possible.
  • Do not hitchhike or use unofficial taxis or buses, as they may be unsafe or unreliable. Use only licensed and reputable transportation services and agree on the fare before getting in.
  • Do not wander off the main tourist areas or explore unknown places without a guide or a group. Stay on marked trails and respect the local wildlife and environment.

I also recommend getting a local SIM card or an international roaming plan to stay connected and access emergency services if needed. Also keep a list of important numbers such as the local police, ambulance, hospital, and embassy.

an incredible view to the ocean from the center of the island // enjoying the pool at the only actual hostel in roatan, roatan backpackers
an incredible view to the ocean from the center of the island // enjoying the pool at the only actual hostel in roatan, roatan backpackers
the beautiful turquoise waters and fancy holiday homes in roatan
the beautiful turquoise waters and fancy holiday homes in roatan

Where To After Backpacking Roatan

When you have finished up your travels in Roatan it is super easy to continue your adventures. Or perhaps even pass into one of the neighboring countries.

Domestic: You can take a ferry back to the mainland to continue your travels in Honduras. Though you will be best off staying one night in La Ceiba as shuttle services generally head off quite early in the morning. You can even get a direct shuttle to Nicaragua or Guatemala.

International: As Roatan has an international airport you can easily get to other neighboring countries. This includes Miami, Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Toronto, Montreal, San Salvador, and Belize City. Personally, I went to Belize for the second time and then took a ferry straight to San Pedro Ambergris Caye from Belize City.

incredible views flying over roatan to the jungle and coral reefs below
incredible views flying over roatan to the jungle and coral reefs below

Any Questions? Let me know in the comments!


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Come find out the best hostels in Roatan as I share the best budget-friendly places to stay! Of course, I have to share my top tips for backpacking Roatan including where to eat, how to get there, how much it costs, and more!

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.

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